The ESS was primarily designed as a time series that could monitor changing attitudes and values across Europe. For this reason it comprises four core modules, three of which contain items measuring a range of topics of enduring interest to the social sciences. The fourth core module carries the most comprehensive set of socio-structural ('background') variables of any cross-national survey. The exact number of items can change from round to round but each question has a unique variable name to assist users working with data over time.
The documents below detail the development of each section of the questionnaire, including the recommendations made by academic experts who were consulted during the early planning stages of the ESS. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the questionnaire development process as a whole.